Our hearts go out to the Japanese people as they deal with the nuclear crisis and the aftermath of their most devastating earthquake and tsunami. We offer our support and affection as they nobly begin the long process of rebuilding their country.
It's clear that this very sad and unfortunate nuclear crisis will deeply affect the nuclear industry as far as safety perceptions and permitting of new projects go. And while it is also clear that nuclear offers the world a major way forward to produce electricity without emitting harmful greenhouse gases, it is unclear what the public's appetite will be in the short term for expanding this energy source given this newest reminder of nucelar’s un-foolproof radioactive ramifications.
There are no perfect answers for establishing true energy security today - no silver bullet for instantaneously generating reliable, cost effective, round the clock, risk free and pollution free energy. The most conventional energies in the widest scale use today have the most glaring imperfections: imperfections evident in the case of nuclear by the Japan nuclear crisis and the more than 8 years it takes to permit new plants; imperfections evident in the case of oil and gas by our dependency on middle east oil with the turmoil there threatening our economic recovery with major inflation risks as well as imperfections evident by the worst oil spill in our history in the Gulf of Mexico last year not to mention oil and natural gas’s vast pollution threats; imperfections evident in coal by its gruesome by-products of air, water and climate pollution and the associated unrealized high costs of clean-up that will be necessary; and imperfections evident in hydro-power by dwindling levels of our fresh water resources affecting reliable output.
Perfection will come as a work in progress but it should now in the 21st century be resoundingly clear - especially after all these natural and man-made disasters rearing their heads within this last year - that immediate wide-scale conventional power conservation and the unprecedented large scale development of unconventional renewable power, while intermittent in some cases (which will be solved by battery storage and other innovations) and while still pricey in others (which will be solved by economies of scale and conventional energies being truely priced to their pollution impacts), offers us the best hope for a sustained world of energy and economic security. Therefore we must now be totally committed and make it a central organizing principle to building this responsible energy society - start today: